A Journal of the Plague Year Day 83

Wednesday 10th June 2020

The small vagaries of life in a domestic existence start off ephemeral, but soon grow especially once they recur.

There is a strange animal outside making a noise every morning and often through the day. Often at dawn. Starts off as a squawking, progresses into dying seagull, then whining into oblivion. Occasionally screams. Enough to have gotten me up at 5am searching in slippers for some injured bird. During the afternoon you’ll hear a hoiking noise like a fat bloke clearing his throat, which degenerates into a yapping cough. I looked all of these up, and it’s a fox, which J, brought up on a farm, regards as vermin but I think magical, but then again I think pigeons are magical. The grunting cough it does is called ‘gekking’ (onomatopeic – the word sounds like what it means), one of a large retinue of noises the animal can make, most infamous of which is the death scream, pealing into the night when it’s supposedly mating, or just bored imo:

Deer also scream, not to mention make pinball noises

It is with this extra time on one’s hands, chained to a screen for hours, and having exhausted every favourite site that you begin to explore. I went for a random meander down the problems of cursive writing in the Russian script.

Lishish – (you will deprive) Лишишьs




And the traditional solution to the problem:

I have also been following travellers as they visit London the first time:

And lightshows in China:

The largest of which comes from Wuhan, a city you might have heard of recently. It covers 900 buildings:

Peeps trying Marmite the first time:




And Surströmming

Which naturally segues into vertigo vids:

Until 2007 this climb was done entirely without safety harnesses for millions of pilgrims, many who’d do the plank walk. A favourite suicide spot in recent years it’s now frequently closed as they launch investigations.

Welcome to the rabbit hole that is lockdown life by this stage.

So need a life right now. I’m sure Bezos sells one on Amazon.



A Journal of the Plague Year Week 9

Sunday 10th May 2020

The sun switched back off today, becoming decidedly Poldarkian from the Mediterranean climes these past few days, and sending all the daytrippers packing, furling back their deckchairs, BBQ sets and parasols, and fleeing back into miserable squalor. The wind whistled throughout, the trees occasionally thrashing.

Almost all the patients coming into A&E this weekend have been due to drunken injury. It beggars belief. Perhaps the UK and US really do have a special relationship. I’d hazard it was Anglo-Saxon too, but Australia and Canada have been doing fine.

The rest of the day a write-off. Migraines again. There’s only so much lying in bed with pain one can do. Tried out some frozen peas on my head, then ate some for lunch (shite). I am a bad cook. Terrible. Even I’m tired of the gunk I come up with; stricken with a terrible habit of appropriating whatever’s dying in the fridge then magicking a marinade from what’s grabworthy while in the pan. Worst ever: a microwaved potato with Marmite.

Did manage to change, shower, exercise and look out the window. A middle-aged man wobbling about with a tennis racket and pounding a brick wall, reminding me of our playground craze of patball (Squash without rackets). Yeah, I’ll take that up again, keep fit. Try and inveigle A to play alongside (an impossibility). But tomorrow.

After I check out some Internet. I’m travelling vicariously, going through every major city in China. In the last 5 years every one has gotten swanky looks like, which in turn has made me look into the local design guilds (20,000 around Shanghai alone) and architects churning out amazing new work. It’s ahead of the rest of the world, and a sign China’s now its own market, as opposed to aping the outside. For all the fuss about trade wars, only 3% of the economy is with US trade, and only 17% with exports. The majority of dough running the place is in services, and domestic, with 5x the start-ups of the US and 10x the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates.

Anyhoo, a welcome getaway from the world, the ethnocentrism and geopoliticking. There’s just something very relaxing about checking out the new and fresh. From another life.

80’s POMO is back in

A new development echoing the karst hills of ancient landscape painting

A shopping mall based on a bookshop aesthetic (those items displayed aren’t books).

The international trend for the 80’s again. I’ve never seen retro come back into fashion twice, once in the early noughties, again in the Twenties.

This circular pavilion is a looping restaurant around a traditional tea garden pond – note the mist vents.


A converted church becomes a bookstore

Wang Shu won the Pritzker Prize a few years back as the world’s best architect. His buildings incorporate the materials of those demolished before them, like strata of alluvial layers of time, and monoliths to passage.

A high-concept store/ cafe in Shanghai -once again the postmodernism, but fucking with it. One side twee, the other brutal.

A kindergarten, that’s also a memory maker.

A store collective in Shenzhen. A mentioned they should have used traditional Chinese instruments otherwise they looked like they were just copying the West. I threw a book at him, the amount of times I’ve heard that shit.

Modernism btw is sourced from the functional, aesthetic styles of Japan and Morocco, where the earlier modernists such as Courbousier went to study. The world we see around us today looks very homegrown in those two countries (which is why Moroccan style is so perfectly balanced and fine, while zen is subtle and understated -almost plain).

This is an office complex – rooms beyond the wooden one lead to steel cages (pop up foodie vans).

Concept store in Shenzhen. Very Force Awakens imo.

Office space -the rest of the development a luxe playground. 80s Pomo creeping in once again.

Mall architecture -the death of retail round the world (worst performing year on record 2019) due to internet shopping is no different in China. However they’re still being built, and like the others have been transmogrified into ‘experience centres’, where restaurants, gyms, after-school clubs and bars have taken over.